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Bloggings: A Bad Night for Anti-Immigrant Hate in Iowa; by Roger Algase

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There is an old joke about an inexperienced pianist who was gave his first concert. The review in the next day's paper started off: "A new pianist played Beethoven last night. Beethoven lost." The same thing might be said about the January 3 Iowa Republican presidential circus, which finally folded its tents minus at least two of its clowns who had been playing the hate card. In Iowa, hate lost.


Both Rick Perry and Michele Bachmann, who had at one time been walking tall in the center ring before falling off the tightrope, finished at the bottom, in single digits. Only Jon Hunstman, a CINO (Candidate in Name Only), scored lower. It is only a matter of time before both Perry and Bachmann announce their withdrawals from the race. 


Newt Gingrich, who was only able to break into very low double digits in Iowa, may hold on a little longer, but unless he has a big surge in South Carolina, he will most likely be out of the race quite soon too. Campaign money talks, especially when it is silent. Immigrant communities throughout America have good reason to be happy with this result. Perry, Bachmann and Gingrich are the three most open and vocal bigots in the Republican presidential race - the first two against Latinos, and the latter against Muslims


Perry, of course, has long since turned against his original admonition to "have a heart"  toward unauthorized immigrants. He has now been campaigning together with Sheriff Joe from Arizona who, if the allegations of human rights violations against him are proven, would be the closest thing America has had yet to being a concentration camp commander.


This is not merely hyperbole. One of the allegations against Joe Arpaio is that he humiliates his detainees by parading them in public wearing pink underwear (while giving them only two meals a day). In some Nazi concentration camps certain inmates (gays, to be specific) were forced to wear pink triangles. This is the kind of man whom Perry has chosen to campaign with.


Bachmann, for her part, supports passing anti-immigrant laws similar to Arizona's in every state. Nothing could make clearer what immigrants and their supporters could expect if she were ever to gain the White House. Even though her presidential candidacy is now over, she cannot yet be ruled out. If Romney, who is desperate to be taken seriously by the immigrant-hating far right, wins the nomination, it is not inconceivable that he might pick Bachmann as his running mate.


The stunning defeats for Perry and Bachmann, and the poor result for Gingrich, are all the more dramatic given the fact that Iowa is hardly representative of America in general. (A disclaimer - my father was born in Iowa.) It is overwhelmingly white, with a large Christian evangelical population. Also, the fact that its meatpacking industry has been accused of employing unauthorized Mexican workers did not exactly help the reputation of minority immigrants in that state.


Nor is Iowa particularly well known as a center of Islamic influence. Even though Newt Gingrich sees "Sharia Law" behind every door and underneath every bed in America, one would have to look harder to find it in Iowa than just about anywhere else. And yet, Gingrich, one of this country's most shameless exploiters of anti-Muslim hate, was unable to gain traction in that state.


The defeat for hatred against immigrants was even more dramatic, given the positions of at least two of the candidates who were more successful in Iowa's three way tie for the top. One of them, Ron Paul, has consistently stated that while he is against "amnesty", mass deportations of unauthorized immigrants are not an option either. This actually puts him to the left of President Obama. Rick Santorum, meanwhile, has said that it is necessary to find another way to "deal with" the millions of unauthorized immigrants already in this country other than deporting them all, (though, if he had the chance, he would probably want to deport every gay person in America).


The only one of the three candidates at the top who has consistently taken a hard line on the issue of mass deportations is Romney. But even here, there may also be a silver lining. Almost no one in either party believes anything that Romney says on any issue. In the general election, if and when he campaigns in states with large numbers of Latino voters, he may suddenly recognize that, just like the big corporations, they are people too.




 



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